There’s a fair welcome for all at the Centre for Newcomers

A friend, indeed: Hawa Endries, right, teaches another participant some basics about sewing during the Women’s Peer Support Group at the Centre for Newcomers (CFN) on Jan. 14. Endries, a first-time attendee of the program, moved to Canada three years ago from Ethiopia. (Photo by Kajol Bhatia/The Press)

Immigrant women find resources to support their families through skills training while forming long-lasting friendships at the Calgary Centre for Newcomers (CFN).

Down the street from Sunridge Mall, the centre acts as a gateway for women who are new to the city and need of support.

“CFN makes sure that it gives you a conducive and very friendly environment to overcome your struggles”, said Rinki Maheshwari Julka, a former volunteer.

Julka said that after she moved to Calgary from New Delhi, India in 2016, CFN helped her and others with workshops on resume building and finding a job.

Eventually, Julka moved on to teaching the Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) to others at the centre.

The LINC program focuses on helping newcomers learn English.

“I was able to volunteer and give back to the people who needed my services the most,” said Julka.

Shaheda Dolly Begum moved from Bangladesh 23 years ago and has been working with CFN for 22 years.

Leading women: Shaheda Dolly Begum, a settlement practitioner at the Centre for Newcomers (CFN) talks about her experience of running the Women’s Peer Support Group on Jan. 14. Begum moved from Bangladesh 23 years ago and has been working with CFN for 22 years. (Photo by Kajol Bhatia/The Press)

Begum runs the Women Peer Support Group at CFN, which is open to every woman regardless of their immigration status.

“It’s my second home,” said Begum.

Currently, the group has 30 members, with a variety of skill and language-based classes at various times, to be as accommodating as possible.

Begum teaches sewing to help the women find work while learning English.

“I love immigrants and enjoy working with them,” Begum said.

The women also get the opportunity to share their experiences with others who are struggling in similar ways, while forming relationships with new people.

Another settlement practitioner, Trina Rahima, moved to Canada from Afghanistan and found her first job at CFN.

“It’s how I first gained an interest in working with and helping newcomers, especially families that needed our support,” said Rahima.

Rahima said that to get the best results out of their experience at CFN, people should take advantage of the information sessions and peer support groups.

While men are welcome to life skills training and the peer support groups, the focus has been on immigrant women so that they can help their families and become more independent.

Rahima spoke about the Women’s Health and Family Health Expo, run by CFN every year.

“This is one of the unique programs that we have run for many years to support women,” said Rahima.

B for basics: Participants gather around to learn the basics of sewing during the Women’s Peer Support Group at the Centre for Newcomers (CFN) on Jan. 14. The women learn these skills to get employed in the sewing industry, or work from home. (Photo by Kajol Bhatia/The Press)

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